In 2005, Dr. Luis Vasquez visited Yantalo, Peru – his mother’s birthplace – for the first time. Though he had grown up in Lima, about 500 miles southwest of Yantalo, he had never seen his mother’s hometown. A retired cardiologist, Luis was struck by the need for medical care in the community. So Luis did what many of us dream of doing: He created the Yantalo Foundation, setting the wheels in motion to build a health clinic that would serve the people of the region.
Ground has now been broken, and work is well underway on the construction of the Adelina Soplin Yantalo Clinic & Diagnostic Center, the first green clinic in South America. The 16-bed International Clinic will be equipped with telemedicine, solar power and intelligent water use to decrease negative environmental impact and to lower operating costs. The Clinic will serve everyone in the region, regardless of their ability to pay, while also serving as a training center for Peruvian medical students and physicians. International physicians, dentists and other health care professionals will examine and treat patients who otherwise have no access to proper medical attention.
Gina Cangialosi and Lauren Garza designed all work related to the architectural plans of the clinic. Principles of evidence-based design (EBD) were used throughout. The faculty, students and professional friends of the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, CA, donated their time and expertise to the Foundation (their renderings are pictured in this post).
And a week from today, I will be in Yantalo, doing the same – donating my time and expertise for landscape design of the clinic and surrounding site.
From a landscape perspective, there are some very exciting things about this project:
- The clinic has been designed with several interior courtyards as well as exterior spaces for patients, visitors and staff. The opportunity to work on a design where access to nature as a restorative element is a “given” is very exciting.
- The clinic is on land that was cleared a long time ago – the disappearing Amazon forest is a major problem in Peru, and the government has a strong REforestation program in place. The Yantalo Foundation is proud to be part of that program; they have planted almost 200 trees already, with plans to plant 3,000-4,000 by the end of the project.
- A local association of retired senior citizens are very active with the project, and many of them have extensive horticultural knowledge – about what grows well where, and also what plants can be used medicinally. I’ll be working closely with them on the design of the healing gardens in and around the building.
- We will definitely be exploring the use of medicinal plants, something we don’t often get to do in the United States. In Yantalo, one of the goals is to nurture and maintain cultural traditions. Whether medicinal plants are used symbolically or for actual harvesting and use, they will be part of the design.
I leave on Saturday and will be there for a week. Where is Yantalo, exactly? In the Amazon jungle, 648 miles (405 km) south of the Equator. Here’s a map. Bye-bye, winter, hello, summer! I’ll do my best to send updates while I’m there – the best way to keep track of goings-on will be through Twitter and the TLN’s Facebook page, and will go more into detail once I’m back home.
For more information, and to make a donation to the Yantalo Foundation, visit their website: www.yantalo.org.